It can be extremely difficult to maintain good nutrition and healthy eating patterns during the holiday season, and falling off the healthy eating bandwagon can lead to a whole host of symptoms, from sluggishness and poor concentration to bloating and abdominal pain. In last week’s post, we examined the reasons why it can be difficult to stay healthy during the holiday season and what practices you can adopt to stay on track with your holistic diet. But sometimes maintaining a holistic diet isn’t enough to beat the bloat during the holiday season.
Bloating is a pervasive and uncomfortable side effect of enjoying holiday meals and treats. Even if you hop right back into your regular routine, you are bound to suffer from bloating and indigestion for a few days after enjoying a heavy holiday meal. But nutrition and healthy eating in accordance with Ayurvedic principles can help to reduce puffiness and pain, restoring your physical comfort and confidence. This week we will reveal a few Ayurvedic tips for beating bloating and indigestion this holiday season.
Eat Cooked Foods
After warm and heavy holiday meals, you might find yourself craving fresh fruit or a crisp salad. It’s a great idea to load up on fruits and vegetables during the holiday season, and your body will need the water that raw produce contains. But in order to truly beat the bloat, you may need to drink your water instead of getting it from produce and opt for fruits and vegetables that are cooked, not raw.
Raw diets are becoming increasingly popular. Indeed, raw produce does serve a functional purpose in most peoples’ diets. But raw fruits and vegetables are incredibly fibrous and difficult to digest. Thus, eating raw produce after a holiday meal can actually exacerbate gas and bloating instead of relieving it.
Cooking food effectively “digests” some of the fibrous compounds before a meal even reaches your plate. To restore proper digestive function, continue to consume warm, oily, cooked, and soft foods. Instead of eating dense and heavy cooked foods like turkey and mashed potatoes, try lighter, plant-based fare. Squash soup, sautéed vegetables, and soft, roasted root vegetables are great options. Eating cooked food allows you to reap the nourishing and cleansing benefits of plant foods without compromising your digestion.
Furthermore, these types of cooked foods pacify the vata dosha. Vata energy is prone to spiking during the winter season, when the freezing weather leaves us chilly, dry, and sluggish. Warm, oily foods pacify the vata dosha to ease nerves and encourage efficient digestion and healthy elimination. By extension, a vata-pacifying diet can reduce belly bloat during the holidays.
Consume Herbal Remedies
As a holistic wellness philosophy, Ayurveda prescribes nutrition and healthy eating as medicine. It also provides guidelines for using natural, herbal medicine for balancing the doshas and improving overall health.
Good nutrition and healthy eating requires the consumption of beneficial spices and herbs. And there are certain herbs that are particularly beneficial for reducing bloat. Creating a tea from herbs like cumin and ginger and consuming it before large meals will encourage healthy digestion and, by extension, prevent bloating. If you have a lot of pitta energy, you can do the same with caraway and turmeric, which are more cooling than cumin and ginger. Chewing fennel before and after meals also promotes efficient digestion.
It is important to maintain a routine that promotes good nutrition and healthy eating during the holiday season. By incorporating mindful consumption into your eating routine, you can minimize bloat while still enjoying holiday favorites.
It is important to chew food thoroughly and eat slowly to reduce bloating and indigestion. You can practice chewing your food 30 times and putting your fork down between bites. It might seem tedious, and you shouldn’t allow your focus on food to detract from the joy and socialization of the holidays. But checking in with yourself and paying attention to your eating periodically is a great way to prevent bloating and discomfort.
What you consume is equally important. It is okay to indulge, of course. But even small health tweaks can reduce bloating dramatically. Avoid consuming leftovers, which contain higher levels of toxic substances, or ama. Consuming too much ama can lead to constipation and, by extension, bloating. Instead, opt for freshly cooked foods. For added benefits, try swapping out conventional butter for organic ghee in your holiday cooking. Ghee is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory fats. It effectively soothes and lubricates the digestive tract, strengthening digestion and reducing bloat.
Practice Stress Reduction
Nutrition and healthy eating are the cornerstones of healthy digestion. But your psychological state can also have a significant impact on your digestion. Poor sleep and excessive stress weaken the flow of prana in the body. Weak prana, in turn, can dampen the digestive fire, or agni, and lead to indigestion and bloating.
To keep your agni strong and bloating at bay, practice regular stress reduction. Pranayama, yoga, and meditation are excellent means of taming holiday stress. Regular exercise can also help reduce anxiety and promote healthy digestion. Be sure to get at least 8 hours of sleep, preferably between the hours of 10 PM and 6 AM.